Recognized HTML document

APPENDIX F.   241 F.


Tam decay of -the families of men who occupied conspicuous positions in past times has been a subject of frequent remark, and has given rise to various conjectures. It is not only the families of men of genius or those of the aristocracy who tend to perish, but it is those of all with whom history deals, in any way, even such men as the burgesses of towns, concerning whom. Mr. Doubleday has inquired and written. The instances are very numerous in which surnames that were once common have since become scarce or have wholly disappeared. The tendency is universal, and, in explanation of it, the conclusion has been hastily drawn that a rise in physical comfort and intellectual capacity is necessarily accompanied by diminution in "fertility"-using that phrase in its widest sense and reckoning abstinence from marriage as one cause of sterility. If that conclusion be true, our population is chiefly maintained through the " proletariat," and thus a large element of degradation is inseparably connected with those other elements which tend to ameliorate the race. On the other hand, M. Alphonse de Candolle has directed attention to the fact that, by the ordinary law of chances, a large proportion of families are continually dying out, and it evidently follows that, until we know what that proportion is, we cannot estimate whether any observed diminution of surnames among the families whose history we can trace, is or is not a sign of their diminished "fertility." I give extracts from M. De Candolle's work in a foot-note,2 and may add that, although I have not hitherto published anything on the matter, I took considerable pains some years ago to obtain numerical results in respect to this

1 Reprinted, with slight revision, from the .Tourn. Anttcropol. Inst. 1888.

2 " Au milieu des renseignements precis et des opinions tres-sensees de

MM. Benoiston de Chftteauneuf, Galton, et autres statisticiens, jo ri ai pas rencontre la reflexion bien importante qu'ils auraient dQ faire de ''extinction inevitable des noms de famille. lividemment tons lea noms doivent s'eteindre .... Un mathematicien pourrait calculer comment 1a reduction des noms on titres aurait

lieu, d'aprbsla probabilit4 des naissances toutes feminines on toutes masculines

ou melangees et la probabilite d'absence de naissances dans un couple quelcouque,"

&c.-ALPHONSE DE CANDOLL5, Histoire dds Sciences et des Savants, 1873.